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Background: Little is known about how normal variation in dietary patterns in humans affects the ageing process. To date, most analyses of the problem have used a unidimensional paradigm, being concerned with the effects of a single nutrient on a single outcome. Perhaps then, our ability to understand the problem has been complicated by the fact that both nutrition and the physiology of ageing are highly complex and multidimensional, involving a high number of functional interactions. Here we apply the multidimensional geometric framework for nutrition to data on biological ageing from 1560 older adults followed over four years to assess on a large-scale how nutrient intake associates with the ageing process.
Results: Ageing and age-related loss of homeostasis (physiological dysregulation) were quantified via the integration of blood biomarkers. The effects of diet were modelled using the geometric framework for nutrition, applied to macronutrients and 19 micronutrients/nutrient subclasses. We observed four broad patterns: (1) The optimal level of nutrient intake was dependent on the ageing metric used. Elevated protein intake improved/depressed some ageing parameters, whereas elevated carbohydrate levels improved/depressed others; (2) There were non-linearities where intermediate levels of nutrients performed well for many outcomes (i.e. arguing against a simple more/less is better perspective); (3) There is broad tolerance for nutrient intake patterns that don’t deviate too much from norms (‘homeostatic plateaus’). (4) Optimal levels of one nutrient often depend on levels of another (e.g. vitamin E and vitamin C). Simpler linear/univariate analytical approaches are insufficient to capture such associations. We present an interactive tool to explore the results in the high-dimensional nutritional space.
Conclusion: Using multidimensional modelling techniques to test the effects of nutrient intake on physiological dysregulation in an aged population, we identified key patterns of specific nutrients associated with minimal biological ageing. Our approach presents a roadmap for future studies to explore the full complexity of the nutrition-ageing landscape.
Alistair M Senior
Alistair M Senior
Alistair M Senior,Véronique Legault,Francis B Lavoie,Nancy Presse,Pierrette Gaudreau,Valérie Turcot,David Raubenheimer,David G Le Couteur,Stephen J Simpson,Alan A Cohen